What I Learned From Dirty Dancing

Dirty Dancing is one of my favorite movies. I have seen this movie so many times, it has probably become detrimental to my well-being. For example, I honestly believe it takes exactly three weeks to fall in love and learn to mambo. In real life, this is impossible because no matter what you will end up with spaghetti arms. As I was watching Dirty Dancing this past weekend for the one millionth time, I made some of the same old observations as well as some new discoveries. Here they are.

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The Time of Your Life

dirty dancingNot only is Dirty Dancing one my all-time favorite movies, but it is also the quintessential Mount Holyoke film. Now that I’ve been a student at MHC for almost two years, Dirty Dancing takes on a whole different meaning.

Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman, class of 1967, is one of our most celebrated (fictional) alumnae. Dirty Dancing is ranked in the top 10 favorite movies for Mount Holyoke students on Facebook (the go to guide for all statistical evidence about a college). There is even an on-campus push to have t-shirts made that say, “Nobody puts a Mount Holyoke woman in a corner”.

When watching Dirty Dancing with a group of MoHos you are bound to encounter several eerily familiar moments. They include but are not limited to:

1) The fear that you will end up with that chauvinist who goes to Cornell or Yale because he is the only guy who ever heard about Mount Holyoke and therefore will be able to appreciate your intelligence.

2) The coming into your sexuality. For Baby it involved learning how to dance and changing her clothes. For a Mount Holyoke student, it requires chopping off your hair, wearing flannel and joining the Rugby/Crew/Ice Hockey teams.

3) That awkward, AWKWARD first encounter with your crush. For Baby, it was “I carried a watermelon” and for the current Mount Holyoke student… I’m not revealing that.

Dirty Dancing Watermelon

4) Having life goals like studying the Economics of Underdeveloped Countries and joining Peace Corps that just scream overachiever.

5) Falling for the wrong person although you’re expected to marry the bro who expects to get into Yale on his last name.

I do have more of point to this post than just sharing stereotypes about my school and classmates that probably aren’t really comparable to Mount Holyoke. (This is all more of a coming-of-age teen comedy thing after all.)

When my friends and I were watching Dirty Dancing for the umpteenth time, we started discussing whether or not Johnny Castle actually deflowered Baby. I’m not kidding. In true Moho fashion, we analyzed the scene where Baby goes to Johnny’s tent/cabin and they dance, leading to their first time together. We paused and rewound the DVD like true investigators.

Some argued, “Of course he was her first! They were first loves”; other argued, “Look at how she is acting. Girl, clearly knew what she was doing.” We never decided anything.